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The true environmental cost of invoicing

paper-pileFollowing is a guest commentary by Stefan Foryszewski, Co-Founder & Senior Vice President of OB10

With business leaders focused on cutting costs — and establishing their green credentials — in the economic downturn, it’s surprising that more organisations aren’t turning to e-invoicing.

Electronic invoicing networks help save businesses vast amounts of paper each year by completely eliminating the need for printed invoices. E-invoicing networks can also simplify and streamline the invoice-to-pay process by enabling suppliers to submit data directly from their billing systems. Our network, for example, lets suppliers send information via OB10 directly to their customers’ accounting systems, eliminating the need to print, mail, process, manually key-in and store paper invoices.

Many companies worldwide have adopted e-invoicing to not only save on paper but to conserve valuable environment resources and improve their corporate responsibility mandates. Which organisations have joined the trend? They include HP, GSK, BP, Lufthansa, Barclays, Kellogg’s and the UK Public Sector.

Think about it. In the traditional invoicing world, a computer or billing system prints an invoice on paper. That piece of paper is then sent in the post to another organisation, where a person takes the invoice’s computer-generated output and enters it in to another computer, the payables system. The paper invoice is then itself stored for the minimum required period before being ultimately disposed of.

Mistakes are too easy under this system. In fact, industry figures suggest that anywhere between 8 and 20 percent of invoice transactions regularly have mistakes … which means the entire process from printing to sending must then be repeated.

With e-invoicing, this whole issue is avoided: inaccuracies are picked up straight away, meaning there is no need for sending duplicates.

Additionally, e-invoicing networks can archive and store invoices electronically, which removes not only the need for paper-based invoices but paper storage costs and other complications such as sending waste to landfills.

The amount of paper currently wasted this way is staggering. Here in the UK, we consume around 12.4 million tonnes of paper each year, with between 60 and 80 percent of all office waste being paper, according to Envirowise, a government-funded programme that helps UK businesses increase profitability whilst reducing environmental impact.

The global impact of wasted paper is a serious concern. According to recent statistics, almost 20 percent of Africa’s forests will be gone within 15 years, with fatal consequences for the wildlife that inhabits those areas.

A perhaps less obvious concern, but no less important, is the reduction in fuel and energy used to process and distribute invoices. OB10 has calculated that, in 2008 alone, electronic invoicing helped its customers save the equivalent of 1,570 trees, 185 barrels of oil, 2,500 kilograms of air pollutants and 379,000 kilowatts of electricity — enough to power the average home for 46 years.

With e-invoicing, accounts are more streamlined and processes are simplified. As a result, with the reduced hassle of manual tasks, transactional costs are also noticeably reduced — typically by 60 percent — and customers make a return on investment within a year.

E-Invoicing helps companies not only improve processing for themselves, but lets them contribute to the global effort to preserve the environment.

About OB10
OB10 ( is the leading global B2B e-invoicing network.  OB10 simplifies and streamlines the complex invoice-to-pay processes. Neither client organisations nor their suppliers are required to implement any hardware or software, and OB10 is independent of data file formats.  OB10 can reduce the cost of paper invoice processing by typically 60 percent and can deliver an ROI in less than a year if the programme follows OB10’s best practice guidelines. Operational across Europe, North America and Asia, OB10 is compliant with the requirements of VAT, tax and e-invoicing legislation and receives invoices from suppliers in over 100 countries.  To ensure unrivalled and rapid supplier enrolment, each new customer’s suppliers are supported by an implementation services team responsible for getting them up and running on the OB10 network.

Customers include:  Agilent Technologies, Barclays, BP, Cargill, DHL, DSG International, Eli Lilly & Company, East Riding of Yorkshire, Fisher Scientific, General Motors, GlaxoSmithKline, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Imperial College, Kellogg’s, Logica, Mohawk Industries, Norwich Union, SaraLee, Shaw Industries and Steria.

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